Friday, September 30, 2011

Cleaning Schedule Pages

So my house just got too messy and I couldn't take it anymore.  Clutter drives me crazy, but somehow it hasn't been enough to make me do anything about it.  In fact it has this weird opposite effect on me, instead of making me want to FIX the problem, it almost paralyzes me.

I remember back in psychology class years ago the teacher was talking about how there are two kids of people; people who can look at a picture and process the whole thing at once, and people who have to look at the picture one segment at a time and then put it together in their minds.  I remember looking at the example picture in my textbook and seeing quite obviously that I am the later type of person.  Its interesting to me to see that it very much translates into other areas of my life as well.  Those of you who follow this blog can probably see that by the way I set up my weekly lesson plans.  It's not that I follow them to a tee, but without them, I would probably be curled up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere not getting anything done. 

This is the case with cleaning as well.  Surveying the entire house overwhelms me and stresses me out, so I do nothing (or well, not much).  I need a list...something to physically check off each day.  I've tried things on the computer, but somehow that just doesn't do it for me.  I've tried a generic weekly/monthly list posted on the fridge, but that is too easy to cover up, and really it's giving me too much freedom, which obviously I can't handle =)  I've tried flylady, which I think is a fantastic system, but the emails get overwhelming and still, nothing to check off.  I've tried writing out my own list of things to do in a planner, but it gets monotonous writing the same things out every day.  So, I came up with a solution that hopefully will work for me!  If you are a big picture type of person, or someone who actually likes cleaning, this probably won't be your cup of tea, but I wanted to share this in case you are like me and might be able to benefit from it!

What I did was make a page for each day of the month and on each page is a list of things that need to be done in the morning, at nap time, and before bed.  There is also a separate list of what needs to be cleaned for the day, complete with how long I can set my timer for each task (flylady style!), so I have the freedom to quit when it goes off.  Then there is a list of what chores I have for Trevor to do.  At the bottom there are extra lines for anything I might have forgotten or any extra things that need to be done that day.  I made this document available to be edited by anyone who downloads it because I know that everyone's house is different, and everyone's schedule is different, and everyone's kid situation is different.  You are free to change it up to fit your needs!

What I did was print out pages for a month, write the date on the top, and cross items off as I go.  In the future I might try getting plastic sleeves to put the pages in that I can use dry erase markers on so I don't have to print new pages each month.  So far it really is working very well.  Like everything else, I don't beat myself up if something (or many things!) doesn't get done, I just look happily at what I did do that day.  I'm hoping to one day expand this folder into a binder that also includes my meal plan, recipes, calendar, etc...but right now I'm super satisfied with the progress I've made so far.

I believe you just download them to your computer (from GoogleDocs) and then you can edit them to your liking from there.  You will notice that some items are on every page (doing a load of laundry for example), some items are repeated weekly, and others are only on one page (to be done monthly).  There are pages for the times there are a 5th Monday or Tuesday, etc. in the month and those pages have an extra item that might only need to be done a couple of times a year.  If you have any questions about anything on the pages, please ask!  If you think of any improvements or any items I forgot to put on my list, I'd love to hear them!

Do you use a homemaking binder?  How do you keep yourself organized and motivated?

Do you need a little extra inspiration?  Check out these books from the FlyLady herself...

Happy Cleaning!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Science Activity - Planting Tulip Bulbs

Last week on Friday, we went to the first meeting of our new homeschool group.  It's a group of a few moms who have at least one preschool aged child, and are homeschool minded for at least preschool.  For the first meeting we let the kids play for the majority of the time while we talked about what we want the  group to look like.  We picked a theme for each of the next few months and will do a story, craft, activity, and snack having to do with the theme.  I am not much of a unit study or theme person, but I know it is fun for the kids, so I'm glad to have this opportunity once a month for Trevor.

We did do a story, activity, and snack this month, it just didn't have any binding theme (but it was still fun!)  I provided the activity this month, which I got the idea for out of The Kids' Nature Book  we use for our science/nature activities.  We planed Tulip bulbs in pots for the kids to take home and watch grow in the spring.  We talked a little bit about the seasons.  Which season do you see flowers blooming in? What season is it now?  Do we usually see flowers blooming in the winter?  We also learned a new term: bulb.  The younger ones in the group got to practice counting to three (each child put three bulbs in their pot).  Hopefully the bulbs will actually grow into pretty tulips in a few months!

Sadly, I completely forgot to take pictures during the meeting, but I took a few  when we got home...

Trevor put his three tulip bulbs right in a row, with the tips poking out just like the direction said to do =)

Giving his tulips a good watering once we got home.

Any tulip experts out there?  I've never planted a tulip bulb in my life, is there anything I should know so we can ensure we get some flowers?

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lesson Plan Week 5

                                                     (You can click on the image to make it bigger if you are interested)                                                                                            MV = Memory Verse   CB = Chapter Book   CT = Character Trait   FP = Forest People  KNB = Kid's Nature Book

Here is our lesson plan for the week.  Trevor was down with a pretty bad fever the past few nights, so we are getting off to a slow start this week, but here we are!

We are getting to the end of learning to write the letters (not that he's great a it yet!) and also the end of the phonograms I wanted to learn this year.  That means that we are just about ready to start spelling and reading!  I'm excited to see him growing in the area.  We will use our spelling words and reading sentences as copywork to keep practicing handwriting and as a springboard to talking about sentence structure (capital letter at the beginning, punctuation at the end, etc.)  More to come on that in the coming weeks!

If you want to see the resources I'm using, click here.  This chart really isn't an explanation of what we are doing, so if you want to know anything more specifically, just ask. 

What are you doing this week?  If you have a blog, put a link in the comments, I'd love to check it out!

Happy Learning!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Beginning Reading and Copywork

Trevor is starting to sound out words using the phonograms that he has learned, so I wanted him to be able to read sentences, or even stories, but I was having a hard time finding resources that only use words in his limited reading vocabulary.  Sometimes I would write simple sentences on his wipe off board, but I thought it would be great if I could type out sentences for him to read and have room for him to do copy work right underneath each word.  I know you can find this on different websites, but I really just wanted to be using words I know he can read, so he doesn't get frustrated.  So I want to share what I came up with!

Perhaps I'm the last person around to do this , but in case I'm not, I'd like to share a fun tool I discovered!  Did you know that you can download extra fonts to use in Word?!? Whoa!  I'll give you a minute to let that set in =)  Did you know that there is a font that has lines on the top, middle, and bottom of the letters, just like writing paper does? I was so excited to find this!  It is called Penminship Print.  All you have to do is download it, notice where it saves to on your computer, copy it from that location, and paste it into the fonts tab under Control Panel.  It will automatically put it into the pull-down font menu in Word.

So I've been having fun making up sentences for Trevor to read.  I'll share the first pages I made up.  Hopefully I'll get my thoughts in order more and maybe put together some more pages of sentences that focus on certain phonograms, so if you are working on certain sounds with your child, you can print them off to use them too!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lesson Plan Week 4

(You can click on the image to make it bigger if you are interested =)
                       MV = Memory Verse   CB = Chapter Book   CT = Character Trait   FP = Forest People
Here is our lesson plan for the week.  Tim had Monday as a vacation day, so we didn't have anything planned for then, and Friday is the first meeting of a homeschool group a few of my friends and I are putting together, so that is why Friday is pretty bare =)  I am really excited about the new group and hopefully I can post about what kinds of fun things we do each month!
Trevor's writing keeps getting better, and he is starting to sound out more words using the phonograms we are learning.  He even read his first sentence by himself (May I go lay down?)  He was getting tripped up at 16 when counting (he would just skip it), but he's overcome that now and is getting better at counting in the 20's and 30's.  After our character trait focus on being attentive and diligent, he's added those two terms to his vocabulary!  I love it when I'm in the middle of something and he says to me, "Mama, you're being a very diligent worker!"

If you want to see the resources I'm using, click here.  This chart really isn't an explanation of what we are doing, so if you want to know anything more specifically, just ask. 

What are you doing this week?  If you have a blog, put a link in the comments, I'd love to check it out!

Happy Learning!

Monday, September 19, 2011

And the Winner Is....

 Thank you so much to everyone who entered my Norman Rockwell calendar giveaway!  After a highly scientific pull-a-name-out-of-a-hat drawing, it has been determined that Robyn is the winner!  Congratulations and thank you for supporting my blog!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Memory Verse Box

It's been about two months since we started memorizing Bible verses with Trevor.  You can see more about the system we are using here.  At first, I just had the verses on 4x6 cards, but quickly realized that I couldn't keep them together =) so I made up a box for them.  I could have bought one, but I'm cheap like that.  Here is what our box looks like...

We have all the verses we want to memorize this year in the front, and then so far we have moved verses back through the Daily, Odd, Even, and some of the day of the week tabs.  The system is working great!  During breakfast, Trevor and I learn that week's verse and then at dinner we review all the verses for that day (Daily, either Odd or Even, and the day of the week).  

Trevor has been learning phonograms as part of our reading/writing for school.  I have them written on 3x5 cards and I was having a super hard time keeping them all in one place, plus I wanted a way to review them each day without having to review ALL of them each day, so I thought they would work perfectly in our box too!  I guess I could have made up a separate box for them, but for now they are sharing very nicely with the memory verses.  I just think it's a fantastic newer or harder concepts daily or every other day, then as you master them, review them less and less (weekly, then monthly) just to make sure you don't forget them!

An example of what is currently behind the Odd tab.

Here is the list of the verses I am hoping to have our family (minus Mackenzie =) memorize this school year:

  • Genesis 1:1                memorized
  • Genesis 1:27              memorized
  • Genesis 1:31              memorized
  • Genesis 2:7                memorized
  • Proverbs 4:20-21        memorized
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31     memorized
  • Proverbs 6:6               memorized
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8
  • Ephesians 6:1-3
  • Hebrews 13:17
  • Proverbs 10:13
  • Proverbs 21:21
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • Proverbs 12:22
  • Proverbs 35:9
  • Proverbs 28:27
  • Proverbs 14:31
  • Proverbs 15:31-32
  • Proverbs 27:2
  • Proverbs 18:12
  • Proverbs 17:27
  • James 1:19-20
  • Proverbs 10:19
  • Proverbs 17:9
  • Proverbs 8:6-8
  • Proverbs 15:1
  • Proverbs 20:11
  • Proverbs 14:15
  • Proverbs 12:23
  • Proverbs 19:2
  • Proverbs 14:16
  • Revelation 4:11
  • Hebrews 11:1
  • 1 John 1:8-9
  • 1 Peter 4:8
  • Psalm 100
  • Mark 12:30-31
  • John 13:34-35
  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Philippians 4:4-9

I'm excited to see if we can really keep up with the one-a-week pace!  So far so good =) 

Happy Learning!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What our Day Looks Like

From time to time (just this morning even!) I have someone ask me questions like: How long to you spend doing school every day?  Do you really sit your 2 or 3 year old at the table to do all that school?  What do you do with the baby when you do school?  So, I thought I'd jot down what our typical morning looks like.  Some days are different (visiting grandparents, special church meetings, getting together with friends, etc.), but if we are home (and I try to purpose to be home the vast majority of the time!) this is how our day generally goes:

  • 7:00am (or so) 
    • kids wake up
  • 8:00am           
    • breakfast at the table
    • go over memory verse and read 'character trait' story.
  • 8:30am            
    • change the calendar
    • chores (I need to work on being more disciplined with this one!)
    • get kids dressed
    • exercise/gymnastics (sometimes)
  • 9:00am            
    • 'play time'  (Trevor and Mackenzie play together in their room with the door shut.)
  • 9:45am            
    • music time on the floor (using instruments we sing the Folk song for the week, plus whatever else we want to sing)
    • read out of chapter book on the couch (Mackenzie does music and reading time with us)
  • 10:00am            
    • TV break (current favorite, Word World)
  • 10:30am            
    • Mackenzie takes a nap (This time keep getting pushed later as she gets older.  If she happens to be awake for this she gets a few 'learning' toys to play with on a blanket and then during writing time and then can join us at the table with some crayons during art time.)
    • Writing and phonogram practice and review at the table
    • Art page at the table
    • Math or game on the floor (sometime Mackenzie does this with us and, of course, it is much more difficult and much less productive,but we just do what we can =)
  • 11:30am             
    • lunch
    • read 'science' story while the kids eat
  • 12:00pm             
    • play or run errands until nap time!

On Fridays I like to try to do something different.  Instead of any school time at the table, I like to try to have a nature activity and craft to do, or sometimes a play date, or really just anything special. 

Really, I am super flexible, I just function better if I can have something written down to use as a guide.  Sometimes if the kids are playing really well together, I let them keep playing.  If Trevor asks to do something (ex. writing right after breakfast) I usually go along with it.

I'm trying to be disciplined with homeschooling so that I can have good habits established as the kids get older.  I'm currently trying to figure out a better system for my cleaning type activities and meal planning.  I really struggle in the cleaning area, and as I was reminded this morning from a friend, it's really just a matter of me being disciplined enough to see my jobs through until they are finished.  Hopefully I will have something that I can share in regards to that area soon, in case any of you struggle there too =)

What does your day look like? Anyone have any cleaning/meal planing tips to share as I'm working on those areas?

Happy Living!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Giveaway: Norman Rockwell Calendar

Giveaway has ended.

Norman Rockwell always takes me to a sentimental place.  When I was a child, my mom had plates with Norman Rockwell pictures on them hung in our kitchen.  I remember thinking that one day when I have my own home, I would hang those pictures in my library (Hummm, doesn't that sounds nice? A library in your house! I'm still working on that one =)  Well, I don't have a library to hang the plates in yet, so they are patiently waiting in a box downstairs, but I definitely have a spot where I could hang a Norman Rockwell calendar!

 I am excited to be hosting my first giveaway! One reader will win a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post 2012 calendar.  This giveaway is sponsored by a website that sells promotional items for businesses or groups.  Pretty much anything you can think of, from frisbees to mugs, they've got it and you can personalize it! My dad, for many years, used to buy calendars personalized for his small business to give away to all his customers, family, and friends at Christmas time.  It was a great way to show kindness and appreciation to these people while still reminding them of his company =)

I had fun clicking around the website, trying to think of what I might need 100 of (or 1000!)  The only thing I could see that I might use in mass quantity is their Christmas cards, but if you have a small business and want a very reasonably priced way to get your name out, there is bound to be something on this site that catches your eye.  If you are hosting an event of some sort and want matching T-shirts or hats, they've got it!  If you have a big party coming up, they have plastic cups and paper napkins that your could personalize for your wedding, or birthday boy, or graduate, or holiday, or whatever.  You can even buy their items (at an even lower price) with no logo on them, so if you need a bunch of shirts for a child's craft project, for example, this might be just your place to find them. Head on over to see what you can find!

The only negative I really found was that shipping is not free.  It's pretty standard for companies to offer free shipping if you spend a certain dollar amount these days, but maybe they are able to keep their prices lower by not doing this.  They do offer $25 off of you first purchase if you join their mailing list, and you get a free gift with certain purchases. 

If you would like to win this Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post calendar, you can enter 6 different ways:

  • Leave a comment under this post
  • "Follow" this blog
  • "Like" Living and Learning at Home on Facebook
  • "Follow" me on Twitter
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook
  • Write a blogpost about this giveaway

Please leave a separate comment for each way you enter.  This giveaway will be open until 11:59pm, Sunday, September 18th.

Happy Winning!
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